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By Hannah Archambault

On February 10 the volunteers for Black AIDS Day gathered in the Student Center to give students free, fast and confidential HIV/AIDS testing.

The Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services came to MU as a part of their initiative to provide outreach testing whenever possible. The Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center contacted them for help with their Black AIDS Day. Twelve years later they are still going strong.

“This is an important event national, as well as locally, because the African-American population is disproportionately affected by HIV, so their HIV incident rate is higher than the percentage of African-American individuals living in the United States,” said Dustin Hampton, the Departments of Public Health and Human Safety’s Health Educator. In an attempt to help remedy the situation they hoped to also educate everyone on how to prevent the spread and contraction of HIV.

It is important to know the basic facts of HIV/AIDS. This includes its transmission being through blood, semen and breast milk. The Centers for Disease Control also recommends that all people age 16 to 65 should be tested regularly if they are sexually active.

“HIV impacts and affects everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or who you love, its all an equal opportunity,” Hampton said.

This event was put on in partnership with the Mizzou Black Men’s Initiative and the Multicultural Center. This particular disease predominantly affects certain parts of the population over others.

“I think an event like this is important because people forget there was an actual time when no one really knew what AIDS was; when someone would live in a period of time where we weren’t able to test people this early on and not have their health be in real danger. I think its important in particular to get out of that situation. At the end of it, all we really have is our health,” said Marcelese Cooper, a volunteer and member of the Mizzou Black Men’s Initiative.

Those involved said they had helped as many people as they could, like those who came for the first time or who came to the event as their usual one test a year. Through their actions all the volunteers were able to reach out to the African-American population of MU in an attempt to be present in helping people in the community to stay safe.

 

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